The shrill sound of a whistle reverberated around Conte Forum. Foul. Again. Boston College’s Kristen Doherty looked on haplessly as teammate Katie Zenevitch jogged off the court after notching her fourth foul with just eight minutes to play in the second half. While Zenevitch, who would foul out later in the game, may not have had the best statistical day, her defensive presence was sorely missed in the post as Wake Forest clawed its way back from a nine-point second half deficit to pull out the win, 56-50.
The Eagles, with four players committing at least four fouls, were in foul trouble from the onset of the game, putting the Demon Deacons on the charity stripe for bonus shots with six to play in the first half and seven in the second. Wake, while shooting just 65 percent from the line, had ample opportunity, scoring 20 points-over a third of its total on the afternoon-uncontested from 15 feet.
BC was also dominated on the boards, gathering 15 fewer missed shots than its opponent. The Deacons rebounding attack was led by junior forward Dearica Hamby, who collected 16 boards and 21 points on her way to a double-double. Hamby made her presence known down low from the onset of the game, collecting a lob pass from Kandice Ball over the head of Eagles’ defenders and muscling her way to a bucket on Wake’s first possession. Hamby would make a routine out of what would prove to be a go-to play in the Deacon’s offensive arsenal.
Undersized Wake point guard Chelsea Douglas also put on a show, totaling 18 points on a mixture of runners in the lane and dribble-move step-back jumpers from around 17 feet. Despite her small 5-foot-5 frame, Douglas played with a scorer’s mentality, fearlessly attacking the rim.
Offensively, the Eagles played their usual variety of basketball, passing the ball around the perimeter of Wake’s 3-2 zone, looking for holes in the defense that they could drive into, letting Wake collapse, and kicking the ball back out for an open three. Up until that part, the offensive script worked beautifully, went off without a hitch. Unfortunately for BC, points weren’t coming from long range. BC shot a mere 2-20 from deep, as usual sharpshooters Nicole Boudreau and Kristen Doherty were 0-4 and 0-5 from three point range, respectively. The Eagles are a team that live and die by the three ball, and on Sunday afternoon, it simply was not working for them.
Over the course of the game, BC did manage to jump out to a pair of big leads but was never able to hold on to them. After Wake’s opening bucket, the Eagles scored nine straight points behind a pair of jumpers from junior guard Lauren Engeln and a pair of layups from Kat Cooper and Kristen Doherty. During that run, Doherty-BC’s highest scorer with 12 on the day-caught a pass at the top of the key and attacked the lane, getting to the rack and capping the drive with a left-handed finger roll finish, complete with an and-1 free throw. The Deacons, however, were undeterred, playing tough basketball and taking a four-point lead into the locker room at half time.
In the second half, BC sprinted back out ahead, playing great defense, forcing Wake to take bad shots and on one occasion, a shot clock violation. Picking it up defensively translated well to the offensive side of the court as Kambria Gabriel blocked two consecutive Wake Forest shot attempts in one possession and dished the turnover to Kelly Hughes on the wing. Hughes then took the ball coast to coast to finish the layup, getting fouled and finishing the three-point play in the process to give the Eagles their biggest lead of the night, 39-31.
Hamby led the Deacons roaring back with 15 points of her own in the second half, two of which came via a highlight in-the-air put-back that she kissed high off the glass as the tides started to turn against BC. A couple of key turnovers, including an offensive charge from Boudreau, put Wake right back in the game. The Deacons took the lead 49-48 off a deep three from junior guard Millesa Calicott and never looked back, letting the time run off with 2:30 to play. As the game clock ticked down, BC was forced to foul, putting Wake’s Karima Gabriel on the line several times. Gabriel sunk her free throws, putting the nail in BC’s coffin as her team won, 56-50.
“What we saw tonight was an example of our team fighting, but we’re not quite there yet in some ways,” said head coach Erik Johnson. “We’re dealing with a lot of injuries, but I’ve got to give our kids so much credit, they fought, they battled, and they followed the defensive game plan … I know we could have won this one.”